One of the biggest problems that faces advocates of meditation is the idea that its all quack science.
Meditation somehow got thrown into the same pot as Feng Shui, crystals and astrology. But unlike those things, meditation does have dozens of studies that back up the beliefs of its practitioners. Here is a short list at some scientific studies that showed that meditation does, in fact, benefit the human body as well as the mind.
- Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program: Collected Papers, Volume 1: 385392, 1977. In this study, college students were used to see if meditation helped with memory. As it turned out, it did, and the results were overwhelming. After a 40-day meditation program, memory was up four times in testing over a control group who did not meditate. During the study, the meditation group was tested against a control group that simply sat with their eyes closed. Similar studies have been done since 1977 and they all show results that prove that by meditating, you can improve your mental sharpness significantly.
- Human Physiology 25: 171180, 1999. This study helped to prove a claim that many thought was outrageous. The idea that by practicing meditation, you actually used a larger percentage of your brain more frequently. This 1999 study used somatosensory stimuli on the brain and then took readings of activity in the cortex of the brain. One reading was done before meditation began and then a second reading was taken during meditation. The amount of brain used during these meditation periods was much larger than before. There is still some speculation about whether this expansion carries over to the time after meditation.
- Hypertension 26: 820827, 1995. This study helped to prove one of the most well known tenants of meditation. It really does lower your blood pressure. Patients who participated in the study that learned meditation showed an increase of more than double to those that were in the control group and triple to those that simply received health education on reducing your blood pressure through proper diet and exercise. It has been preached for years that meditation lowers stress levels so much that an actual reduction in blood pressure takes place, and this study proved it.
- Journal of Counselling and Development 64: 212215, 1985. This study also went out to prove one of the long-held beliefs about meditation: that it can help you sleep better at night. But instead of choosing a group that was already sleeping well, they chose people who were suffering from insomnia due to post-traumatic stress disorder. The results were even more dramatic then the researchers were expecting. While the control group actually got worse over the time of the project, the group that practiced meditation showed great sings of improvement. The study took four months to complete so that the results would be more authentic.
- Journal of Counselling and Development 64: 212215, 1985. It is also believed by most meditation practitioners that meditation can decrease depression and improve your overall outlook on life. While it may be difficult to quantify these claims in a lab environment, this study used the same post-traumatic stress disorder patients as in the study above and checked to see how their depression levels were after four months. An overwhelming majority of the patients who had practiced meditation as apposed to those who were in the control group showed significantly less depression. Not only is meditation a great way to relieve stress and depression in every day life, it can be a great medical tool for dealing with depression, as well.
- Academy Management Journal 17: 362-368, 1974. This study took a look at two different aspects of meditation on professional life. Can regular meditation help to improve your job performance and job satisfaction at the same time? According to this study, both are not only possible but are likely. The study was simple. A group of professionals were asked about their job before learning meditation and then again afterwards. The results showed a major jump in both satisfaction and performance.
- The American Journal of Managed Care 3: 135144, 1997. Finally, one of the most controversial claims about meditation is that it can actually improve your health. This study looked at medical utilization and expenditure and came to the conclusion that those that chose to practice mediation on a regular basis showed a significant drop in the amount of time spent in hospitals during visits and a drop in the number of visits overall.
While these studies may not prove the benefits of meditation to everyone, they do help to add inarguable medical and scientific proof to the meditation argument. There is little doubt anymore that meditation is good for you and that, if practiced long term, it can lead to major health advantages over time.<?xml:namespace prefix = o /><o:p></o:p>
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